Batman on the Sega Genesis
First on the chop-block is Batman for the Sega Genesis, based on the 1989 film of the same name, and unique from the NES version also developed by Sunsoft. From the get-go, something feels noticeably peculiar about the Sunsoft production, the music developed by Naoki Kodaka provides a unique and appeasing background sound that’s upbeat and enthusiastic, certainly a decent soundtrack, but one that feels more aptly assigned to a 60s Batman than it does the dark, atmospheric backdrop of Tim Burton’s film. It’s good, it just doesn’t fit, I’d say.
The graphics themselves aren’t awful and, at the very least, it does capture the visual aesthetic of the film, however.
In Sega Genesis’ Batman, the player engaging in button-induced mayhem that chronicles events that occasionally resemble the film.
The game-play itself leaves a lot to be desired. In-fact, when I first started playing Batman, I wanted to opt out early on and look for something else to talk about. After all, my goal wasn’t to find a bad Batman game, but I figured that you have to take the good with the bad, and, if nothing else, at least I could say that I honestly tried. As most of you might expect, Sega Genesis’ Batman is a button-masher, but, unfortunately, it’s a particularly unfulfilling button-masher, all things considered. All your opponents are bland and repetitive, and something about Batman’s attacks feel unfulfilling and standard, the dullness of the attacks themselves as they land doesn’t help matters. The boss-battles, barring the inevitable fight with The Joker, bring out the worst qualities of the game’s mechanics, with your adversary willing to continuously swat at the air until they inch closer and closer to you. There’s no sophistication, which isn’t inherently bad, in an earlier edition, I talked about how much fun Turtles in Time was, but that’s not what it is with Batman. I will say though, to their credit, Sunsoft does attempt to spice things up by featuring action-sequences with the Batmobile and Batwing, which I would consider the parts I liked most. Something else they do is implement plat-forming mechanics which, not only could I have done without, but I would also say feel very out-of-place. The little variation in animation, and paint-by-the-numbers bad-guys, be it the Street Hoods or the Mimes, Batman isn’t a game that brings great disdain from me as a gamer, but something that draws nothing at all.
So, Sega Genesis’ Batman game isn’t very noteworthy, the fighting mechanics are generic and particularly unsatisfying, certain aspects feel tonally inconsistent, and while the graphics are decent enough for their time, nothing about it is memorable or worthy of recommendation. Frankly put, it’s a below-average button-masher.
Rating: Below Average
Batman Forever on the Original PlayStation
Batman Forever: The Arcade Game is a beat ‘em up video-game developed by Iguana Entertainment, which later went onto become Acclaim Studios Austin, sharing a name with the publisher of Batman Forever: The Arcade Game, Acclaim Entertainment. (An interesting side-note is that when Acclaim Studios Austin’s parent company went belly-up in late-2004, most of the employees found out when they showed up for work only to find the building’s manager locked them out of their offices.) An acknowledgeable fact also worth mentioning is that Batman Forever: The Arcade Game is separate from the Super NES and Sega Genesis games developed by Probe Entertainment a year prior.
Batman Forever boots up on the original PlayStation (its also available on the Sega Saturn, Arcade, and DOS) with music fresh out of the film it finds its namesake, that is, after a small prompt from the Department of Justice informing us “Winners Don’t Do Drugs.” At first, upon playing, I thought to myself the most striking aspect about Batman Forever is the graphics themselves, which, although not necessarily bad, I don’t particularly like. Conveniently, they reminded me of the pre-rendered graphics made common on the Sega Saturn and Sega 32X, or, at the very least, that’s where my mind usually heads, and, sure enough, Batman Forever was made using Sega’s “Titan” technology, which acted as the foundation for said hardware. The way I would describe them is to say they look like cardboard cut-outs pasted in, and although they look detailed, something about them always seems off, especially when it comes to their animation and movement. That said, the animation does provide occasional use of the environment that allows variation but isn’t particularly unique from what we’d seen years prior.
As far as game-play is concerned, the player is allowed the choice of either Batman or Robin, with minimal differences at best depending on which character you decide to play as. Batman Forever does its best to spice up an old formula. The action beat ‘em up had become tired even in 1996, and to buck off conventions and stigma, it adds an array of power-ups and maneuvers to keep things interesting in its play-through. In the end, I would argue that it really works to its detrimental more than it does succeed in its intent. Batman Forever’s game-play provides an artificial display of variation, but in its bombastic chaos and loudness, it depletes most of its substance altogether. It isn’t something that requires much strategy, nor does it seem to allow much strategy to be implemented, with different power-ups layering the floor and various maneuvers, it doesn’t allow anything beyond mashing buttons together and keeping your fingers crossed. Although it allows blocking, it’s a scummy, bottom-of-the-barrel feeling every time a character shows up and can wipe out your entire health-bar with a gun or by spinning around a chain. Stringing together combinations can be enjoyable, but, in all honestly, in a game where there is so much going on, I found it very difficult to immerse myself into it.
Batman Forever: The Arcade Game delivers what everyone would expect. An experience that requires you to spam your enemies, and throughout it, your combatants will return the favor with their own repetitive lunges. At its best, it provides a mindless arcade experience, but, at its worst, and, in my opinion, it fails and provides a royal cluster of bad guys and overtly encumbered mayhem.
Batman Begins on the GameBoy Advance
As you can expect, Batman Begins is a video-game adaptation of the Nolan-directed film of the same name, and it works through various events seen in the film. Developed by Vicarious Visions, the video-game carries a familiar beat ‘em up approach, but, more than that, it offers some variation as well.
Through what I would admit is a hastily thrown together narrative-recap of the film, Batman Begins is able to provide more variation. Elements of actual plat-forming can be seen, which provide a welcome break, but are admittedly very exact and lacking in polish. For instance, swinging from hanging chandelier to chandelier can be problematic, as can the exactness of grabbing hanging hooks, all in all, what it comes down to is that it could have been more fluid. I think the animations are above-standard in Batman Begins, as far as Gameboy Advance titles are concerned, with your character being able to roll and do wall-to-wall jumps very well. Something else Batman Begins brings with it is the ability to implement stealth, sometimes offered as a choice and other times being mandatory, and like the plat-forming, while I would regard it as overtly simplified and lacking in polish, it adds an extra-dimension and kept me on my toes, avoiding the tedium of repetitive button-mashing action. The fighting itself is your standard affair. Certain characters are stronger than others in-terms of combat, others carry handguns, but, I find that most of them can all be conquered with the same tactic. That is, catching them off-guard with a gliding kick, then, crouching, swiping at their legs with kicks, and occasionally suckering in an uppercut.
The graphics in Batman Begins are solid, once more, complimented by the fluid animation. Interestingly enough, while Batman Begins is, of course, a retelling of the film, and strings of text-based dialogue is shown depicting the costume from said film, the Batman you play as opts for the more traditional gray-and-black.
A criticism I will mention about Batman Begins is in-regards to its difficulty. Although, in-general, I wouldn’t regard Batman Begins as difficult by any means, that fact is changed because the long-stretches without checkpoints and the non-existent health-packs that will sorely be missed. It isn’t cripplingly difficult, but it seems unnecessarily frustrating for the sake of itself, having to redo long-stretches because you made a small mistake.
Batman Begins kept my attention well enough. I finished the campaign in under two hours, and that itself should tell you it isn’t something I can recommend anyone going out and spending their money on when, for the same price, you can purchase Return to Arkham. However, it’s an enjoyable Batman adventure on a handheld console.